Image source: Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images
Australian Open will kick off on February 8, after all the players have carried out the quarantine. The 72 tennis stars took charter flights to Melbourne and were placed in solitary confinement without the possibility of training for two weeks, a drastic measure which.
ATP number 1 Novak Djokovic tried to ask for a relaxation of the protocol by sending a letter to Craig Tiley, but his initiative ended up further fueling public hatred. In an interview with radio station ‘Mix 102.3’ last Friday, the 17-time Grand Slam champion said he felt lucky to have received special permission from the authorities to travel to Australia.
“There has been a great debate in the last several weeks whether the tennis (players) should come or not,” Novak Djokovic said. “There are many who are unable to reunite with their families and who are still waiting for permission to come to Australia. And us getting that special permission to be here, quarantine and then participate in the Australian tennis summer is a privilege and we’ve been fortunate. My heart goes out to all the people suffering. I hope that all this will pass quickly, that we will all be free again soon.”
He also expressed hope that the players would be able to provide some entertainment to the local fans.
“I love being here,” Novak Djokovic said. “It’s a country of sports. The amount of passion and love for the sports (in Australia) is quite impressive. I can’t wait to go out and start competing in front of the Aussie crowd.”
“We do, in a way, want to feel welcome here,” the Serb added. “I understand the frustration of the people having us here and Australian citizens are unable to come back home. I’m grateful to be here. I hope all of us together can have, at least, some good times on the tennis courts in Adelaide and in Melbourne. I hope that we can bring some good positive energy and joy to the people.”